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Incredible deal or face-saving punt? How the next 90 days must save the U.S.-China agreement

 

They ate. They talked. They struck a temporary cease-fire to a trade war that has roiled relations for the past year.

Most of all, President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping postponed the day of reckoning in U.S.-China trade relations for another three months.

That outcome from a much-anticipated dinner meeting between Trump and Xi in Buenos Aires on Saturday sets up an extremely challenging time frame for China to make the extensive structural changes that the U.S. has been demanding all year and that hard-liners in the Trump administration will undoubtedly seek during the coming talks.

“If Xi’s history is any judge, we will just see more of the same and no substantial changes,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Chinese president has the authority to “drive a new wave of liberalization,” but may avoid taking steps that could risk threatening China’s economic order, Kennedy added.

Administration officials had been quietly talking to their Chinese counterparts for weeks. But even on the night before the much-anticipated dinner on Saturday night, many senior White House aides didn’t know exactly how it would go. Many were worried that a failure would overshadow what had been a relatively non-controversial summit.

Before the dinner, one White House official who spoke to POLITICO called Xi a “wild card,” adding that he’s difficult to predict and it’s hard to get a clear sense of what the Chinese officials were thinking.  Read more

Read also: As a moderate Republican and internationalist, George H.W. Bush was last of a kind

Incredible deal or face-saving punt? How the next 90 days must save the U.S.-China agreement

Incredible deal or face-saving punt? How the next 90 days must save the U.S.-China agreement